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UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute

Fondúireacht Mhíchíl Uí Chléirigh, UCD

The Irish Franciscan Archive: An Archive of the Irish at Home and Abroad

This unique and internationally significant archive consists of the following:

  • Irish and Continental manuscripts dating from the eleventh century

  • A large collection of documents dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth century

  • A valuable collection of early printed books and pamphlets

  • Photographs dating from the nineteenth century

In addition, a large collection of altar plate (chalices, patens, vestments and other objects) dating from the late sixteenth century has been discovered and has resulted in the opening up of a new field in art history in Ireland.

Since the Irish Franciscans did not confine themselves to mendicant and ecclesiastical matters but were active in all aspects of Irish and European society, this is reflected in their records: they range from the highly intellectual theological treatises of Luke Wadding in Rome to the daily accounts itemising purchases of food, fuel and other domestic necessities in a nineteenth-century Irish friary. This is an archive that is of relevance to researchers throughout the world working on many various subjects in history.

Jewels in the Archive

  • The twelfth-century Liber Hymnorum (Book of Hymns) 

  • A volume of the Annals of the Four Masters

  • The first known copy of Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn

  • One of the earliest folios of numes (early written musical notation)

  • Political pamphlets printed in Waterford in the 1640s

  • Correspondence between Luke Wadding, Florence Conry  and the papacy and the royal courts of England, France and Spain in the early seventeenth century

  • The de Valera papers 


Dún Mhuire, Killiney and UCD Archives

The archive is located in the Franciscan house of studies in Dún Mhuire, Killiney, Co Dublin and in UCD Archives and Special Collections. All the medieval and early modern manuscripts, the Wadding papers, papers from the Irish Franciscan continental colleges (the B and C manuscripts), the de Valera papers and a selection of early printed books have been transferred to UCD and are gradually being catalogued and conserved. The project also involves working with other archives which are repositories for Irish Franciscan material, including the Faculty of Theology Library, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the archive of the Franciscan General Curia in Rome (now named the ‘Wadding Archive’) and the Spanish National Archives in Simancas in Spain.

History of the Franciscan archive

The library of St Anthony’s College remained in Louvain until the French Government took control of the college in 1793. Some of its contents were dispersed to libraries such as the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels. Much of the rest was transferred to St Isidore’s College in Rome or to the Franciscan Friary in Wexford. Part of the archive in Rome was moved to the Franciscan Friary in Merchant’s Quay, Dublin in 1872 and from there to Dún Mhuire  in 1946. This material is now being transferred to University College Dublin. A large collection of books remains in St Isidore’s College ( and important documents, including papal bulls and Wadding papers, are housed in the General Curia in Rome.

St Anthony’s College, Louvain is now the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe.